Personal Finance Basics

Moving on a budget: 8 ways to save money moving

March 20th, 2024 Mar 20, 2024 • Read time: 9 min


8 ways to move on a budget

Considering moving? While relocating or moving can often be pricey, it doesn’t necessarily have to be. Read on to learn some tips on how you can move on a budget.

Can you move on a budget?

If you’ve ever moved, you know how expensive it can be to get your belongings from one home to the next. Even if you move yourself and don’t hire a moving company, the cost to rent a truck, fill it with gas, and buy moving supplies can get pretty high. But it is possible to move on a budget!

All it takes is some research and smart spending habits to save money on moving expenses. While no one can move anywhere for free, you can certainly cut down on moving costs by following some of our tips.

How much money do you need before moving?

The cost of moving all depends on what you’re moving and how far you’re moving it. And estimates between moving companies can vary quite a bit. Here are some important factors to consider when moving:

  • Distance: The further you move, the more money you’ll pay. For a local move, which is within 50 miles of the place you’re leaving, the average cost to move household items can range from $500 for a studio apartment to nearly $3,000 for a four- or five-bedroom house, according to

A long-distance move, which covers just about any move longer than 250 miles, is going to cost significantly more. estimates you’ll pay between $1,100 and $5,500 for a 250-mile move, and between $1,900 and more than $14,000 for a 2,500-mile move. Of course, there are many prices in between for medium-sized moves between 250 and 2,500 miles. But prices will vary depending on what you’re moving.

  • Size of Move: While the average hourly rate for a mover is between $38 and $75 per mover for local moves, the size of your move will determine how many movers you’ll need. If you’re moving out of a studio apartment, you may only need two movers. If you’re leaving a large house, however, the moving company will likely require a bigger team of movers to accommodate all the belongings that were in that large house. When you add movers, you add cost.

As an example, if it takes two movers two hours to move you from a studio apartment, you’ll likely pay a little more than $200. But if your move takes five movers a total of 12 hours to move out of a five-bedroom home, you’re looking at more than $3,000 in moving costs.

  • Time of Year: Most people want to move on weekends and during warmer weather. Those who do usually pay much more than moving during the week in the middle of winter. Weekday/off-season moves will save you a lot of money over weekend/peak season moves.
  • Add-ons: Will you be packing your own belongings or having the moving company do it for you? Do you need any furniture taken apart and then reassembled at your new home? Do you plan on storing some of your belongings before moving in? Are you going to need packing supplies like boxes, tape, and bubble wrap? Do you have extra-large items that need moving, such as a piano or a hot tub? All of these will cost you extra.

These are just some of the factors to consider when deciding on the best way to move. Fortunately, we have eight helpful tips that can save you some money on your move.

8 tips for moving on a budget

1. Determine your budget

You probably already have an idea of how much you want to spend on your move. But it’s still a good idea to sit down and take a few quick steps to make sure you’re not spending more than you need to. A move is the perfect time to break any bad money habits you might have.

  • Review your finances to figure out what you can afford.
  • Decide what exactly you’re going to need for your move (storage, supplies, how many movers, etc.).
  • Make a list of possible expenses (the actual move, storage, supplies, tips for the movers, insurance if needed, any additional costs).

Once you’ve done all this, you can start to figure out the next steps of your move.

2. Choose the right time of year

As we mentioned, moving during peak season will cost you more money. Summer (June through September) is considered peak season for moving companies. Of course, some moves must happen at a certain time, and if you have to move during the summer, there may not be much you can do to avoid it. However, if you can be flexible when scheduling your move, try to make it happen in just about any other season.

Weekends are also very popular for moving because it’s more convenient than taking time off from work during the week. But that convenience is something you’ll pay more for, because moving companies charge higher rates for weekend moves. If you can take a paid day or two off from work, you’ll likely save a lot of money on moving expenses.

Finally, if you’re able to schedule a mid-month move, you’ll probably get a better deal than moving at the end or beginning of the month. Why? Because most apartment or home leases run out on the first or last day of the month, so many people choose to move then. That’s why moving companies can charge more for those dates. A mid-week, mid-month, non-summer move is your best bet to save money on moving.

3. Pack your own things using free packing materials

You may not think a roll of bubble wrap, packing paper, or a pack of boxes would cost much money. But these supplies are not cheap and they can add up very quickly. Get creative to work your way around this expense.

  • If you still have original boxes for some items or boxes left over from a previous move, tape them back up and use them again.
  • Ask family or friends if they have any boxes or packing materials to spare.
  • Check out local and/or neighborhood social media pages (such as Nextdoor) to see if anyone nearby has any packing materials to spare.
  • Head to a local liquor store–they always have empty boxes, most are happy to give them away, and they’re the perfect size for smaller items. Check big-box stores as well for larger boxes.
  • Check online yard sales or marketplaces; sometimes people are giving things away.
  • Use soft household items to protect breakables–towels between dishes, socks around glasses and mugs, blankets or clothes instead of bubble wrap, and newspaper or other types of paper for packing. If you don’t subscribe to a newspaper, perhaps someone you know does and would be willing to save old papers for you to use for packing.

You’d be surprised by how many things in your home can make great substitutes for packing materials.

4. Get rid of unwanted/unneeded stuff

The best way to lighten your packing load when moving? Get rid of things! Chances are you have accumulated a lot of belongings over the years–but do you really need or use all of those things? Before you move, take inventory of items in closets, the garage, the shed, and the basement or crawlspace to see if there’s anything you can get rid of before you start packing.

Unwanted things can make great donations (which are tax-deductible!), and you might even be able to sell a few things online or by holding a yard sale–and then you can put that money toward your move! Remember, the less you have to move, the less money you will spend.

5. Ask family or friends for help

You can move the old-fashioned way…by asking friends or family to help! Keep in mind, there are pros and cons to this method.

The pros:

  • Your friends and family will probably offer to help for free. Of course, you won’t let them take nothing for their efforts–but buying them some gift cards or dinner sure beats paying a moving company.
  • If your move is small and local, you can rent a truck and move your things at a fraction of the cost of a moving company, as long as your friends or family are willing to help you physically move everything.
  • You can turn what’s usually a stressful experience into a fun event with people you know and love.
  • Even if your family and friends don’t help you with the physical moving, they can still help you save plenty of time (and money, if you were planning on paying someone) by packing with you.

The cons:

  • If you’re moving large furniture or expensive, breakable items, it’s not worth the risk of having inexperienced amateurs handling them. Professional movers are professionals for a reason–they have experience with many types of items and moves and they have the equipment to help them.
  • Movers will pack your boxes and items onto their trucks with care, and they have a system that maximizes the truck space they have. Depending on the size of the move, they may only need one truck. Your friends and family probably don’t own a 16-wheel tractor trailer, which means you’re stuck cramming boxes into pickup trucks or vans at best, and compact cars at worst. Plus, you’re taking the risk that your items won’t be damaged during the move. With a moving company, you can get insurance to cover any damage.
  • Moving is exhausting. Without a moving company, you’re likely spending an entire day (if not more), hauling boxes and belongings up and down steps–and that’s just moving out. You’ll need to do it all over again when you move in! It’s physically and mentally exhausting and can even lead to injury. Paying for movers takes all of that work and stress away.

If your move is close by and on the smaller side, you may be able to get by with the help of friends and family–and that will save you a significant amount of money. Any larger move, however, may require professionals.

6. Use self-storage or a portable moving container

Most moving companies offer a storage service if your move is temporary or there will be a gap between when you need to move out of your old home and when you’re ready to move into your new one. That service is convenient, but it’s not cheap. A money-saving alternative is to either rent a self-storage unit to keep your belongings in until you’re ready to move in, or rent a portable moving container (like PODS).

The main benefit of a portable moving container is that you pack it up and the company from which you rent the container will transport it to your new home when you’re ready to move. Self-storage units may require a little more work on your end as far as moving the items to and from, but self-storage will likely cost less than a moving container.

7. Don’t forget about your utilities

Many utility companies–gas and electric, water, cable/internet, phone, etc.–charge you a certain amount per day for their services. Don’t pay them any extra money if you can avoid it. When you know the date you’ll be vacating your home, schedule services to be turned off that specific day. And when you know when you’ll be moving into your new home, schedule service to begin that day. This way you’re not paying for any days that you won’t be using the services.

8. Shop around

Once you know the date and have all other information ready for your move, start getting quotes from several moving companies in your area. Don’t forget to check out online reviews as well–the cheapest doesn’t always mean the best!

Sun Loan can help you with your move

No, we can’t pack your belongings or drive the moving truck, but Sun Loan can help you with a personal loan to get you the money you need to make your move. Stop by your local branch today to learn more, or call us at (800) SUN-LOAN.

Author – Amy Sines

Amy Sines is Vice President of Operations Support at Brundage Management Company, the management holding company for Sun Loan. She brings two and a half decades of experience in the consumer loan indu... Read more »

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